The problem is with YEC... the universe really is billions of years old. The earth *is* ancient. The thing is, most Christians ignore the fact that the scriptures actually point to earth existing prior to Adam and Eve, and it was a prevalent belief among Christians in the US until about 100 years ago. Genesis has a specific structure to the first few sentences which give a key to the puzzle:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
Now, note the translation. Note that the second sentence does not begin with "And" but verse 3, 4, and numerous following it start with "And". The reason for this grammatically incorrect translation in the NIV version of the Bible was to point to the original word thought formation in the original Hebrew Torah. In Hebrew, there is a structure for sentences that indicates the thought or statement immediately follows the preceding thought or statement. English doesn't really have a clear cut way to show this concept of chronologically adjacent vs. ambiguous times between events. Essentially, the above "And" means "Immediately following this, God said". Now, you can see that between the initial creation of the heavens and the earth, there is no "And". The word "Now" was to indicate the Hebrew method of essentially saying "now we're starting a concept that is separate from the one preceding this".
Take all of the above understanding of the original Hebrew, and you find that the first sentence "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." followed by "Now, " literally (wow, nice to use that word in it's true sense) means that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [end of idea/concept/chronological concept] [Begin new concept and bring it forward to a more recent time concept] Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep".
Now, we take a look further and you'll see a slight mistranslation here... The Hebrew word "hayah" in verse 2 had been translated to "was". However, "hayah" means "to become" or "to come to pass" (see: Strong's Concordance).
So let's try that translation again:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [end of idea/concept/chronological concept] [Gap in time - length unknown] [Begin new concept and bring it forward to a more recent time concept] Now the earth [became] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep"
Notice something there that wasn't there before? So, what we have is that God created the universe, including earth. In other sections of scripture in Isaiah, we find that it is described that God created the earth "not void" or "not in chaos" or "not [chaotic, void]", and this same word used in Isaiah is the word used here, so we know that at some point before this, it was *not* void, and became void, so let's try it one more time:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [end of idea/concept/chronological concept] [Gap in time - length unknown] [Begin new concept and bring it forward to a more recent time concept] Now the earth [became] [chaotic, a void], darkness was over the surface of the deep".
So we have a creation of the universe, an unknown amount of time passing, then a world utterly devoid of everything, and we get to the "creation" story:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
The Hebrew word used here for "Let" can be just as accurately translated as "to allow to return to it's original state". So we see that God was allowing light to return to earth (separating a dense cloud cover, perhaps, allowing the sun and stars to bathe the earth again) and it's followed by the first "night and day" following the catastrophe.
So lets tell it much more like it sounds from the original texts in plain language that might actually make sense:
In the beginning, God created everything, including the earth. An indeterminate amount of time passed (in which evolution could have been the method used to create all of life on earth, supporting all of the scientific evidence of dinosaurs, early hominids, neanderthals, etc.), some major catastrophe occurred, destroying all life on earth (think:Noah's flood, but 1000 times worse, and no ark, perhaps the moon was a rogue planet that struck a colder earth, knocking us into closer orbit, knocking the earth onto it's tilted orbit, and melted the icecaps, flooding the entire earth), and the earth became empty and void. God hovered over the dead planet and decided to start again. He broke the cloud cover of the planet, allowing light to return to it's original state, including day and night.
I could go on and on with this, such as how the Hebrew word "yom" has three literal meanings - a 12-hour period of time (sunrise to sunset), a 24-hour period of time from sunset to sunset (the Hebrew day), and an indefinite period of time - and how the very activities occurring on the days described in scripture ("day" 6, for example has the earth producing plants which then produced seed which then produced more plants!) could not truly mean a literal 12 or 24 hour period, so the meaning of "yom" in this passage has to refer to some indefinite period of time, and that Adam, upon seeing Eve, remarked "at last!" implying the "day" or period of time had been very long indeed (long enough for him to have named every animal on the face of the earth), so it was 7 periods of indeterminate length, allowing for all sorts of "wiggle room" on exactly how God created the current earth and current human beings we know on this planet today.
When honestly reviewed, the creation story can be seen to support the idea that man who is alive today is not directly related to the early hominids we find in the fossil records, and that man today is a unique being separate from that line (which explains the "missing link" issue) while still allowing for every single finding of science, including evolution as a whole. Science is the study of God's creation to understand it inside an out. I see absolutely no conflict with science and faith, and I find your *certainty* that the idea that God created the universe and all in it is absolutely falsifiable a bit unscientific.
Yes, YECists are not in line with the facts that present themselves, but that does not invalidate the possibility of a talking reptile creature existing at some point in history that is now extinct (how many animals "talk" today - the human vocal chords are not the only ones that can "talk" and humans are not the only creatures that communicate with sound), nor invalidates the possibility that some plant altered Adam and Eve's minds so that their state of nakedness went from innocent to something they felt ashamed of (a plant that makes you feel awkward, ashamed, and induces irrational fear of others... not completely unreasonable, right?).
Be a true scientist. Seek the truth, and examine *all* possibilities, even if they contradict your world view or make you uncomfortable. Anything less is hypocritical.